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Functional MR imaging in assessment of language dominance in epileptic patients.

NeuroImage 2003 Februrary
The value of functional MR Imaging (fMRI) in assessing language lateralization in epileptic patients candidate for surgical treatment is increasingly recognized. However few data are available for left-handed patients. Moreover determining factors for atypical dominance in patients investigated with contemporary imaging have not been reported. We studied 20 patients (14 males, 6 females; 9 right handed, 11 left handed) aged from 9 to 48 years, investigated for intractable partial epilepsy. Epileptic focus location was temporal in 14 cases, extratemporal in 6, and lateralized in the left hemisphere in 11/20. Hemispheric dominance for language was evaluated by both Wada test and fMRI using a silent word generation paradigm in all patients. Furthermore, a postictal speech test was performed in 15 patients. An fMRI language lateralization index was calculated from the number of activated pixels (Student's t test, P < 0.0001) in the right and left hemispheres. The Wada test showed a right hemispheric dominance in 8 patients (6 were left handed and 2 right handed) and a left hemispheric dominance in 12 patients (5 were left handed and 7 right handed). These results were concordant with clinical postictal examination in 11/15 patients (73%). Clinical status did not allow a conclusion about hemispheric dominance for the remaining 4 patients. FMRI was concordant with the Wada test in 19/20 cases. For one left-handed patient, fMRI showed bilateral activation, whereas the Wada test demonstrated a right hemispheric dominance. Right language lateralization was significantly correlated with left lateralized epilepsy (P < 0.05) but was not correlated with age at epilepsy onset, early brain injury (before 6 years), and lobar localization of epileptogenic focus. However the lack of a significant relationship between these factors and atypical language lateralization may be related to the small sample size.

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